Fresno test of competency as a formative assessment tool as an aid to learning process

Muhammad Jaffar Khan, Phillip Evans


Background: To study the use of “Fresno Test of Competency” for assessing evidence based medicine (EBM) course as a formative assessment tool as an aid to learning process.

Methods: Fifteen Postgraduate students attending EBM course spanning two semesters (6 months each) were recruited. To formatively assess students’ skills one month after the start and at the end of the course, Fresno test of competency was applied. Mean scores with standard deviations were compared between pre- and post-course results.

Results: Response rate was 55%, only 8 out of 15 students completed both parts of the study. Evidence based medicine skills and knowledge improved in 7 out of 12 questions assessing different EBM skills (formulating focussed research question, sorting evidence, literature search using different tools, epidemiology, and understanding confidence intervals). The scores in assessing critical appraisal (relevance, validity and magnitude) were lower in post course test. Paired sample correlation of pre and post course tests shows a significantly higher positive correlation (r=0.945, p <0.0001).

Conclusion: The improved scores of students in different skills show that this test can be applied, with modifications, to assess the students formatively in Evidence Based Medicine, in terms of their ability to develop research question, sort the evidence, and understand its epidemiological application to the general population.  However, larger studies are suggested to prove the generalizability of this assertion.

Keywords: Fresno test, competence model, formative assessment

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